“We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we would still live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.” – Irving Townsend
Here in this time of Covid-19, with all its limitations and boundaries, there are some relationships that have come to be more important than ever. If you are a pet owner, you know what I mean. The companionship of animals in our lives these days is so precious to so many of us.
Even though my husband and I don’t have a dog in our lives right now, we’ve had many in the past: a funny, hole-digging Collie mix, a regal and affectionate Golden Retriever, and a little male Bichon Frise, who would gladly take on any roaming German Shepherd who might come by the driveway. We still take joy in the neighborhood dogs, as we pass them and their owners while going for walks. Dogs seem a community asset, bridging distances between us.
This week we experienced a weird concurrence of major pet events in our extended family. Our niece and her husband had to say goodbye to their Bichon, Miles, dearly loved for fifteen years by the entire family. Miles was an intrepid hiker and a champion cuddler for so long. The last week it became clear that his body was all worn out. Tough little Miles had to be euthanized, and our hearts are broken.
On that same day, at nearly the same time that Miles’ life was ending, our grandsons, ages eight and six, were getting the news via a Zoom call that they were to be the new owners of a beautiful, energetic little French Bulldog, Willie. Willie was the star of the Zoom call, of course, strutting around, those huge ears like sentinels, oblivious to the joy of the two excited little boys. Dog and boys, all ready to play.
Pets come and pets go. Not so often, at least in our family, both on the same day. This felt unique, such a poignant life lesson.
I believe this Covid-19 pandemic offers lessons, too, some so hard, some so aggravating, some so tragic. And yet, some smile-inducing, some hopeful, some soul-expanding. Especially at times like these, lessons can come in the form of pets.
Having something to care about beyond our selves. Giving back to us licks, tail-wags, purrs, and cuddles. If this time can help us slow down to appreciate the little joys of life, including the animals around us, we might be making something good of our shared adversity. We might call it, “Love in the time of Covid.”
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